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5 books to read after 'Great Circle' by Maggie Shipstead

There is a book for every type of reading lover on this list.
Illustration of Maggie Shipstead holding her book Great Circle and a copy of the book
TODAY Illustration / Amazon / Courtesy Maggie Shipstead
/ Source: TODAY

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As May comes to an end, the Read With Jenna book club is wrapping up its reading of "Great Circle," by Maggie Shipstead.

This epic adventure novel tells the story of a trailblazing female pilot named Marian Graves and the woman who played her in a film decades later. It spans time and space while sharing the stories of two courageous women.

If you enjoyed reading Shipstead's book, she has five recommendations for what to pick up next. From historical fiction to a memoir, there is something for every reader on this list.

"Life After Life," by Kate Atkinson

Set from 1910 to the beginning of WWII, Ursula Todd is not your typical girl. As she grows up, she dies and is reborn repeatedly.

"Atkinson takes a structure that might have been repetitive — protagonist Ursula keeps dying and being reborn, navigating her life with growing skill and bravery as circumstances shift around her — and creates an ingenious, exhilarating ode to what-ifs," Shipstead told TODAY via email.

"A Tale for the Time Being," by Ruth Ozeki

This Booker Prize finalist is about a teenager named Nao who lives in Tokyo. To escape bullying and loneliness, the 16-year-old plans to end her life, but before she does so, she sets out to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who has lived more than a century.

On the other side of the world, a novelist named Ruth discovers a collection of artifacts in a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed ashore on a remote island. As she explores its mysterious contents, Nao's story and Ruth's own uncertain fate become intertwined.

"Told along two different timelines and in two different points of view, this novel features a Japanese teenager’s diary washed up in the Pacific Northwest, a Zen nun, the ghost of a kamikaze pilot, and a possibly magical crow. There’s mystery and strangeness here and mind-bending questions about time and the multiverse," said the "Seating Arrangements" author.

"The Signature of All Things," by Elizabeth Gilbert

From the author of the New York Times bestselling novel "Eat, Pray, Love," "The Signature of All Things" is the fictional story of Henry Whittaker, an Englishman who builds an empire for himself in the South American quinine trade in the 18th century. His daughter, Alma, uses her inheritance and her sharp mind to research evolution and botany. As she pours herself into her studies, she falls in love with an artist named Ambrose Pike, who has almost nothing in common with her except for his longing to makes sense of the world.

"Alma Whittaker, the soul of this exuberant, wide-ranging novel, is an indelible character: a brilliant 19th century botanist full of curiosity and lust and jealousy and pride and all those competing impulses toward good and bad behavior that make us human. You’ll never look at moss the same way again," said Shipstead.

"West With the Night," by Beryl Markham

"Markham, who spent most of her life in Kenya, was famous for her love affairs and for being the first pilot to fly nonstop across the Atlantic from Britain to North America in 1936, against the wind. Despite her spotty formal education, she also proved herself a skilled and evocative memoirist with this book, which shares its author’s glamor and toughness," said the "Great Circle" author.

If you fell in love with Marian Graves' adventurous spirit in "Great Circle," you will marvel at the details of Markham's life.

"Possession," by A.S. Byatt

This Booker Prize-winning novel by A.S. Byatt is about two young scholars. Set in the 1990s, the story involves the pair researching the lives of two Victorian poets by combing through their journals, poems and letters. The book is a mysterious love story with a passion for literature at its core.

"A feast of a book," said Shipstead, "A grand but precise collage of voices and styles and points of view, Byatt’s 1990 novel is a romantic and intellectual epic about two modern literary academics uncovering an unknown love affair between two Victorian poets. I find some parts so transporting I could re-read them endlessly."

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